[Based on an old Irish recipe]
This is too expensive and too much work to make more than once a year, but worth its cost; it's nothing whatsoever like the average, or even the better-than-average fruitcake. People who hate fruitcake like this one. I serve it with sharp cheddar cheese on the side.
1 box dark raisins and 1 box golden raisins
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon, 1 TSP nutmeg, and a dash of orange extract
1 cup water and 1 cup dark rum, plus additional rum for basting
1 cup candied fruit and 2 cups nuts
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter
4 beaten eggs
1. Put the raisins and water and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan with a lid, or in a dutch oven. Bring it all to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Take it off the heat, stir in the butter, cover again, and let it cool completely. [This cooling process -- which is important, because otherwise the beaten eggs will cook when you add them, and that will wreck your cake -- takes about 3 hours; to speed it up a tad I set the covered pan outside on our front porch.]
2. When the mixture is completely cool -- room temperature -- stir in the beaten eggs, the rum, the cinnamon and nutmeg, and the orange extract.
3. Mix the flour and baking soda together with a fork in a big mixing bowl; add the other ingredients; stir with the wooden spoon until everything is moistened.
4. Stir in the nuts and the candied fruit. [I use black walnuts, but any type of nuts or combination of nuts that you're partial to will work, except that I wouldn't recommend using peanuts or Brazil nuts. Nothing makes the serving of a fruitcake less auspicious than failing to be absolutely certain there are no little bits of nutshells present, so that somebody breaks a tooth. Check the nuts for shells twice before adding them.] The batter will be very dense and hard to stir, and that's all right; that's what supposed to happen.
5. Bake in a greased Bundt pan or angelfood cake pan at 300 degrees for 2 hours or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. [Don't try baking this in those disposable aluminum foil pans.]
6. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan; then turn it out on a rack to finish cooling.
7. Put some rum in a cup or small bowl, and baste the cake all over with the rum. [I do this with a pastry brush; you can also do it with your fingertips, but it takes a lot longer. I don't recommend using a turkey-baster unless you have a separate one that you will forever use only for basting your fruitcakes.]
8. Soak a big piece of cheesecloth in rum, and wrap the cake in the cloth, covering it completely; then wrap again in aluminum foil.
9. Put the wrapped cake in a roughly airtight container and set it in a cool dark place for at least two weeks. [I use a plastic "cake carrier" for this. An ordinary cardboard box will serve. If you have a piece of furniture in a cool place with a big enough drawer, that's also fine; just set the wrapped cake in the closed drawer.]
10. Every three or four days, take off the aluminum foil and moisten the cheesecloth with rum again; then re-wrap with the foil and put the cake back where you're storing it.
1. Sherry or whiskey are okay instead of rum; I like the rum best, and I use Meyer's dark rum. If you're opposed to alcohol and unwilling to use it, don't make this recipe; without alcohol, the result will be a standard fruitcake of the type that makes people say "I don't like fruitcake." Alcohol that has been baked for hours in an oven no longer has any ability to intoxicate, by the way.
2. It's okay to use a tablespoon of orange juice instead of the orange extract.
3. More candied fruit and nuts is okay, up to the limit of your tolerance. I usually make a pattern of maraschino cherries in the bottom of the pan (which is of course going to be the top of the finished cake), just because it's pretty.
4. This fruitcake freezes beautifully and will keep essentially forever frozen.